There is at best inconclusive evidence at hand concerning the Atlantis that Plato writes of. It means lots of speculations ride high. A look:
The story of Atlantis - as it was not passed down. Plato writes about Atlantis in two of his dialogues - Atlantis that sank into the sea. The tale of the sunk Atlantis comes down to us through Plato. Or does it? One problem is that Plato's dialogue Timaeus opens with "the greatest action which the Athenians ever did . . . through the lapse of time and the destruction of the actors, it has not come down to us." [Emphasis added]
Stop there. If a story has not come down to us, telling it at length might amount to relating fiction and fantasy.
Historically speaking, Plato's story has a major flaw or four, to say the least. And there were probably few Athenians in the Athens area at the time he puts the tale in. Athenans were perhaps living in caves at the time. And where was the fabled Atlantis beyond Gibraltar?
A case for Santorini and a volcanic eruption
Plato's dialogues Timaeus and Critias, written in 360 BC, contain the earliest references to Atlantis. In them, Plato tells of an Atlantean attack on Athens at a time when there might not have been any Athens to attack. Its recorded history goes around 3,400 years back in time, and the oldest known remnant of humans there is a cave that has been dated to between the 11th and 7th centuries BC.
Plato told the story of Atlantis around 360 BCE and said Atlantis existed about 9,000 years before his own time, and that its story had been passed down by poets, priests, and others. If he had given a closer date for the ruin of the fabled Atlantis, for example some 1100 years earlier, the tale and the transmission should in some ways have been more likely, for then the destruction of the Minoans could have been brought into it with less awkwardness.
The founders of Atlantis, he also said, were half god and half human. At the end of the story, Atlantis sinks into the Atlantic Ocean. Since plate tectonics seems to leave no room for such a happening - except for the case of Doggerland being submerged in water, the idea that Atlantis sank into the Atlantic Ocean through cataclysmic events, seems loose and not very well founded.
There are many theories about where Atlantis was. The site with the widest acceptance today is the Greek island of Santorini (ancient Thera). Otherwise, "Pick a spot on the map, and someone has said that Atlantis was there," says Charles Orser, curator of history at the New York State Museum in Albany. (Willie Drye)
Attacks on a non-existing town may leave no marks. Before looking for Atlantis, study the story in the light of history and what is known today about Athens, when it was built, for example. Athens is old and people have lived there for at least 5000 years according to books, but the cave there from 11,000 years ago may not fit the tale of a town. The said Atlantean attack on Athens is from a time when there is no historical record of any Athens, only a cave at best. (WP, "History of Athens"; "Athens"; "Atlantis")
Atlantis: Some ancient writers viewed Atlantis as fiction; others believed it to be real. In one version of events (the dialogue Critias) Plato did not hear the original myth of Atlantis, but the story was told him through the links back to the Greek sage Solon 300 years earlier: Solon visited Egypt and heard it from Egyptian priests who read it from existing texts. In other old stories the tale was confirmed by some perhaps dubious philosopher who visited Egypt.
The Atlantis story has had a considerable impact on literature and lots of people since, for it is full of utopian elements that stimulate the imagination.
Plato's greatest tale that did not come down to us is about Atlantis (!). There is much to learn in classics.
The relevance of texts has to be evaluated and if possible established. Their entertainment value and interest play a large part in keeping ancient tales alive. In some cases, validity and relevance fails or loses to tales that contain figurative parts and subtle meanings, as many fables do, for example.
By way of example, once again: In Timaeus, Plato writes about what he calls "the greatest tale" of "the greatest action which the Athenians ever did, and which ought to have been the most famous, but, through the lapse of time and the destruction of the actors, it has not come down to us." [Emphasis added]
He says the tale "has not come down to us" and still is told. Further, the tale contains descriptions of Athenians from thousands of years before Athens was built, which looks like one more blemish to consider. At best there were only cavedwellers in the Athens area at the time Plato writes about.
It things like these were considered, there might have been less explorers on the sea floors here and there? But thousands of writers who have written a whole lot about Atlantis, could have missed the cues like: "Did not come down to us", "There were Athenians long before Athens existed".
In Plato's Timaeus story of Atlantis, he tells of the inhabitants' advanced state of scientific knowledge. The lost continent is believed to have vanished about 9500 BC. through a cataclysm of nature; certain metaphysical writers, however, state that the Atlanteans were destroyed as a result of their misuse of atomic power. Two French writers have recently compiled a Bibliography of Atlantis, listing over 1700 historical and other references. [Autobiography of a Yogi, Ch 23, note 9].
Plato's fabulous story is one of the classics on-site. There is much to learn from it, for one thing. The tale still captures our imagination, and bears many marks of an engrossing tale. And one more reason has come to the fore recently:
Evidence from Egypt suggests that the western empire that Solon heard of in Egypt, was Khaftiu (from Crete), in other words the Minoan Empire, which had a unique and lively civilization by 2000 BCE. Some of the descriptions of the capital of Atlantis fits the so-called palace of Knossos on Crete, and the very typical, coloured stones used there, for example. - Around 1480 BCE the Minoan state was left in ruins by cataclysms. Much happened overnight as the volcano Santorini erupted and caused horrible tsunamis. The volcano has been building up again since . . . for "there is more in store" sometime.
In case Plato's statement that Atlantis was beyond Gibraltar is stressed as one of the indispensable hallmarks of it, the harbour town of Tartessos at the mouth of the river Baetis eller Oba (= Gold River) in Spain, west of Gibraltar, could become a hotspot contender. Tartessos was both a harbour town and a culture. Tartessos was rich in the metals tin, gold and copper and traded with the Phoenicians. Initial archeological investigations in the area may be followed up in years to come.
Now, it could help to discern between fantasy and fiction on the one hand, and fit and hopeful and all wrong non-fiction on the other. It may not be easy - for at times fable and fiction blend in unsuspected ways, as when old Troy was located by a German "treasure hunter" who thought Homer's descriptions of it were facts and not fiction. What is left of the site are the remains of the destruction of the site caused by the treasure hunting archaeologist Schliemann. Today, an international team of German and American archaeologists bring the Troy of the Bronze Age back to life, and Turkey fights Russia and Germany by law to get back stolen Trojan treasures. New tunes appear . . .
And Bible readers may learn that once a donkey suddenly talked, after perceiving things better than the prophet who rode it did. Could a donkey surpass a man of Yahweh, a prophet in the Bible? Yes, the Bible says. (Numbers 22:21-33)
In Homer's Odyssey, the hero and his crew once get in danger as they sail between Scylla and Charybdis. Scylla and Charybdis were mythical sea monsters sited on opposite sides of the Strait of Messina between Sicily and the Italian mainland. Stories like this have entered the folklore of Europeans in the form of a proverbial phrase. The gist of the ancient tale is that one has to find a way between two "things" that are supposed to be dangerous. An American proverbs sums up how to navigate between fiction and nonfiction, for one thing - since it helps to sort out facts from fiction ever so often. The proverb: "Twin fools: One believes anything and the other nothing." Research may be advocated, if you feel up to the voyage into formerly unchartered waters. You would need to know how to sail, and not only in good weather.
Be that as it may, Homer mentioned the story of Troy in his Iliad and Odyssey, and later writers, like the Latin Virgil, followed up. In addition, there are untrue stories under the names of Dictys Cretensis and Dares Phrygius.
From this it stands out that to sort fact from fiction is too hard for some people, and that few things can replace candid and well organised and accomplished research.
Now we come to things Edgar Cayce told about Atlantis.
Edgar Cayce on Atlantis
Cayce sank into sleep, and on the border of dream sleep and deep sleep he often told things to people - some things to those who were next to him then, and some things meant for others far away in other cities, sent by letters. What he said became recorded by a hired stenographer. Examples:
The first (Atlanteans) became dwellers in the rocks, in the caves, and those also that made their homes or nests, as it were, in the trees. - Edgar Cayce Reading 364-12
The Edgar Cayce assertions. The Kentucky-born sleep-sayer Edgar Cayce (1877-1945) sank into sleep or a self-induced trance several times, and in such states he told of Atlantis - where many people could rise up into the air in gas-filled balloons made of elephant skin. Some vessels could move in water, on water and in the air and other subtle spheres, he also tells in Reading 364-6.
Cayce also asserted that Atlantis would "rise" again in the 1960s, and that there is a "Hall of Records" beneath the Egyptian Sphinx, which holds historical texts of Atlantis. So far, no such "pots of gold at the ends of that rainbow have been dug up. No Atlantis has risen that we know of, and no chamber beneath the Spinx is found.
Also, the Atlantis of Cayce and many others has been hard to locate, as if it was in a deep fog surrounded by large and heavy clouds.
(Books: Frejer 2002; Hugh Cayce 1999; George Little, Lora Little, and John Van Auken 2006).
Some believe in leprachons, and some in Atlantis. As for Atlantis in Greek tales two Plato dialogues, it lay beyond the Pillars of Hercules - generally assumed to mean beyond the Strait of Gibraltar. But Egyptian sources tell the island nation bore the name of Keftiu (Crete). What is more, most of Plato's descriptions of Atlantis conform quite well to Minoan culture with its palace of Knossos.
Many scholars challenge or oppose the views of Cayce on where Atlantis was or lies submerged. And many views that scholars have supported thoughout history, were ailing and failing ones.
"Nobody in Greece for 9,000 years had mentioned a battle between Athens and Atlantis" before Solon, says Dr Robert T. Carroll, author of the Skeptic's Dictionary, and also: "It would not take much of a historical scholar to know that Athens in 9,000 BCE was either uninhabited or was occupied by very primitive people." He also says different seekers have located the mythical place in the mid-Atlantic, Cuba, the Andes, and dozens of other places.
To many, Atlantis was a place of advanced civilization and technology. Also, "alternative" archaeologists have credited the Atlanteans with teaching the Egyptians and the Mesoamericans how to build pyramids and how to write, etc., Dr Carroll fills in. [More]
It is mostly the evidence part that is weak when it comes to Atlantis. And scholars are trained to ask for evidence and sift and grade it fairly well without great blunders before saying much.
A myth or some twisted and deranged old memories handed over? If Atlantis tales are taken to bear on humanity's unfulfilled longings for living in peace and plenty, as indicated by "The wish can be the father of the thought", it may in part explain why the Atlantis myth has been so very persistent despite facts and lact of good evidence so far. The sleeping Edgar Cayce told of Atlantis, its riches, aims and culture - and maybe we can learn something of value, maybe not. It depends on what we look for, and what evidence is good evidence in our views - at least interesting enough for further looks.
The tale of Atlantis: A persistent myth, whereabouts unsettled on, and much speculated about. Is there gold in a pot at the end of the rainbow? It depends on where Atlantis is sought, and what parts of Plato's myth are left out, for starters.
In Dr Rudolf Steiner's Atlantis tellings, Atlantis is placed where the Atlantic Ocean is now, a place where it could not possibly be in the light of plate tectonics. There are many more but's to find also. "The map does not fit the terrain", so what is to be trusted the most? [Rudolf Steiner's Atlantis] (Steiner 2001)
Pros and cons. More recently, the Minoan culture has become another Atlantis contender - even though Cypern and neighbouring islands are not beyond Gibraltar, as Atlantis should be according to Plato. But much fits. [◦Link] Many assume the name 'Atlantis' ties in with the Atlantic Ocean. However, the island's name derives from the mythical giant Atlas, who held the sky upon his shoulders. To locate Atlantis just by using its name looks like an infirm sort of business. Some present-day investigators consider whether the source of the legend is actually the Minoan eruption of Santorini (Thera) (WP, "Minoan civilization"; "Ancient Crete".) Atlantis and Athens, some further pros and cons or indicators:
There is no definitive proof here, but rather suggestive points to consider - pro's and con's, in other words. The time for definitive conclusions is not yet.
Were there any connection between ancient Egypt and the Minoans? Yes. Minoans traded gold, copper, ivory and tin with Egypt, and Cretan vessels have been discovered in Egypt during excavations. Also, Aegean pottery and ceramic artifacts have been excavated in ancient Egyptian sites. The pottery and artifacts can be dated back to Ancient Egypt's Middle Kingdom period. "On a statue base at the funerary temple of Amenhotep III, important inscriptions showcasing the relations between Egypt and Aegean have been discovered. The inscriptions indicate that the Egyptians had knowledge of the Aegean towns and regions. It is however unclear whether people from Aegean civilization settled in Egypt and vice versa," informs Ancient Egyptian Facts (2016). (Compare Wikipedia, "Aegean civilizations")
Evidence from ancient Egypt could indicate that the western empire that Solon heard of in Egypt, was Khaftiu (from Crete), or the Minoan Empire. Around 1480 BCE the Minoan state was left in ruins.
Barely beyond Gibraltar: Tartessos. However, if Plato's Atlantis was beyond Gibraltar, the harbour town of Tartessos at the mouth of the river Baetis eller Oba (= Gold River) in Spain, west of Gibraltar, could be a first place to dig for it. Tartessos was both a harbour town and a culture. Tartessos was rich in metals tin, gold and copper and traded with the Phoenicians. Initial archeological investigations in the area may be followed up in years to come.
Loose and widely divergent claims may wait for a tight and fixed conclusion so far. That leads us to the claim that the Aegian area northwest of Egypt was the Atlantis of Plato's myth. There is little use of a fixed conclusion! More evidence is hopefully forthcoming.
If there is no conclusive evidence anywhere; better be guarded for your own good.
It could be wise to take that point into account and ask for good evidence to save oneself much untoward in time. All do not heed such counsel, though. Still: "Twin fools: one doubts nothing, the other, everything (American proverb)." 'Between credulity and blunt disbelief there could be room for studies and explorations. And they often cost, like an old, established faith -
What we may learn depends on our capacity. Compare the Asian poem The Journey Abroad:
Home he returned
If we leave fanciful speculations aside and considers that Plato writes there were a great number of elephants on the island, we may not rule out Cyprus for that reason: There was once dwarf elephants on Cyprus and some other Mediterranean island:
The Cyprus dwarf elephant (Palaeoloxodon cypriotes) is an extinct species of elephant related to the living Asian elephant. . . . It is thought the Cyprus dwarf elephant came during the last Ice Age. They were only about 1 meter tall. . . . Extinction for the Cyprus dwarf elephant came around 11,000 BC. . . .
Dwarf elephant bones on Cyprus do not prove a thing about Atlantis, though. Nor do ancient and newer speculation and tales. (WP, "Atlantis")
The current relevance of Atlantis stories
It is fit to practice well polished gems of understanding adequately. A sound education is for that.